Author: Shayna Rosenberg

ATT Mechanchim Kollel

ATT is excited to announce a pilot program that started after Pesach. Over the last two summers, ATT ran a very successful summer Kollel with Rabbeim from the day school community. In an attempt to build from that program and its success, the ATT partnered with Rabbi Steinmetz, Rav of Kehillas Meor Yisrael in West Rogers Park, to create an afternoon Mechanchim (Educators) Kollel. There are 10 Rabbeim learning each weekday afternoon, Monday – Thursday, 4:00-6:00pm.

In addition several times a month, the Rabbeim attend required professional development (PD) sessions providing them with skills and information enabling them to grow in their profession. ATT Superintendent, Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller, is overseeing the PD courses offered.

ATT looks forward to introducing more programs like these to positively impact the educators of our community.

REACH Hosts Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Tier 2

REACH hosts over 40 educators, therapists, and administrators gathered for a 3-day intensive Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) Tier 2 training hosted by REACH. Facilitated by Master Trainer Jordan Spikes of Think: Kids, this advanced concepts training course aims to further develop skills at all phases of the Collaborative Problem Solving® approach. It, additionally, enhances implementation in the real world.

Participants deepen their skills by learning strategies for using the approach in the most challenging situations using real-life examples from their experiences. Attendees, from across the spectrum of the Chicago Jewish community, engaged in meaningful learning and practice together.

2023 ATT Awards Presentation and Annual Meeting

The ATT thanks the community for its enthusiastic support of its 2023 Awards Presentation and Annual Meeting, An Evening with the Stars, held May 17th. Close to 300 people gathered together to honor ATT students as they received various awards and scholarships. Following the presentations the celebration continued with more photo ops of the awardees and delicious refreshments.

Big Breakthrough for ATT Schools and Title I Funding!

Due to the efforts of the ATT, and specifically those of Mrs. Chani Friedman in representing the Chicago Orthodox Community’s Day Schools, ATT is happy to announce that students who live in the Peterson Park area are now eligible to receive Title I services in their school!

What does this mean? Students who live in Peterson Park (Solomon School District) now generate Title I funds and are eligible to receive resource help across our schools.

Increase in Title I Funding — CPS (Chicago Public Schools) designates federal funds for use by private schools within public school districts. There are different types of federal funds, each with specific rules regarding the generation of funding for a private school. That means every student can potentially generate money for his/her school to use in arranging support services for students. Title I funding is specifically designated for students who need academic help in school. Previously, students in Peterson Park were not counted as students who generate Title I funds. Now, however, due to ATT’s persistent efforts and advocacy, over 500 additional elementary school students in our Jewish day schools are now eligible to be counted towards receiving these CPS funds. That means potentially hundreds of thousands of additional dollars becoming available to use by our schools!

Increased Eligibility — ATT has advocated on behalf of our students that everyone, regardless of where they live, should be eligible to receive resource help if they need it. Today, we are one step closer. Due to this breakthrough, hundreds of students who may have been struggling in school and yet were not able to receive services due to the fact they live in Peterson Park have now become eligible for services such as one-on-one Instruction, academic coaching, school counseling and more.

How did this happen? — Mrs. Chani Friedman, ATT’s Government Funding Liaison, is an expert on CPS rules and federal regulations. Mrs. Friedman realized that although non-attending private school students living in Peterson Park (Solomon School District) do not affect the overall poverty level which decides a public school district’s eligibility to receive Title 1 funding, these students can still tip the scales due to details in the mathematical poverty index formula. While others may have admitted defeat years ago, Mrs. Friedman continued to diligently provide Peterson Park student data to CPS in hopes of one day tipping the scale. That day finally happened last week as the numbers finally added up! This was a breakthrough for our students and schools and showed the power of unified advocacy on behalf of the community. Through Mrs. Friedman’s efforts in pooling the data of students across the Chicago Orthodox Jewish Day School system, ATT was finally able to tip the scale and achieve eligibility for students living in Peterson Park. The other Chicago school districts where ATT students live already have been recognized as Title I attendance areas due to ATT advocacy many years ago. This now completes the picture and will allow for added services for more students.

ATT has always been focused on maximizing the funds and services available for all of our schools and students! We thank Mrs. Friedman for her steadfast efforts for our day school community.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Re’eh

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

It Isn’t Easy to Commit

When the Torah discusses the mitzvah of tzedakah-charity, the possuk says, “כי בגלל הדבר הזה” – as a result of this matter (your generosity) Hashem will bless you in all of your endeavors. Rashi quoting the Sifri notes the choice of the word “davar,” which literally means thing or matter, can also mean speech or word. Rashi therefore explains that one is rewarded not only for the charity he does but also for the words he said when he made the commitment. What is the importance of the words; don’t the actions speak much louder than the words?

We can understand this in one of three ways. Firstly, the Torah is teaching us the importance of inspiring others when we do a mitzvah. The Mishna in Avos (5:13) says that one who desires to give and that others should give as well is a chasid, a pious person. Our sages instruct us to publicize those who do a mitzvah in order to inspire others to follow suit. (See Yoma 31a.) This does not contradict the principle of being modest and humble in our service of Hashem if our public participation in a mitzvah is predicated on the intent to get others to join and not for self- aggrandizement.

A second explanation is that making a commitment raises the level of difficulty in doing the mitzvah.  Once a pledge is made, we’ve obligated ourselves to do something and that is uncomfortable. Our sages teach us that one who does things because they are obligated gets more reward than one who does things voluntarily beyond what is required of them. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is an important insight into our humanity. We like to be heroes; we don’t like to pay bills. Once we make a commitment, it is harder to stick to it and fulfill what we said.

A third explanation is that when we make a public commitment, we are avoiding the pitfall of cynicism. Often, when people are asked to participate in a worthy cause, they have many reasons to say no. It could be lack of trust of the leadership, non-belief that effort will be successful, feeling that we have a better plan, etc. We are wonderful “armchair quarterbacks” when it comes to communal issues. When we commit to a communal cause, we are avoiding that bad behavior and resisting the cynical response that robs us of communal initiative.

All three of these lessons are helpful when we speak to our children about getting involved. We should do mitzvos with the hope that others will join us. We should make commitments because we become obligated by them, and we should value being part of worthwhile communal endeavors.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Eikev

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Leadership at Its Best

In this week’s Torah portion Ekev, G-d tells Moshe to relay the following message to the Jewish people. “What does G-d ask of you but to fear Him?” The Talmud analyzes this statement and makes the following observation. In using the term what, it implies that the matter is quite simple. With that, the Talmud wonders is fear of G-d a small and trivial thing? To truly have an awe of G-d in one’s everyday life is the work of a lifetime. Therefore, how can it be phrased in such a manner that makes it seem like it is an easy thing to attain?

The Talmud goes on to answer that yes, for Moshe, to have an awe of G-d is a small thing. However, we are now left wondering how this answers the question asked above. G-d commanded Moshe to relay this message to the Jewish people. This wasn’t a command to Moshe alone. Yes, it may be easy for him, but it is certainly not easy for the rest of Bnei Yisroel.

There is a great lesson in leadership to be learned from this. A leader leads by example. If a leader exemplifies and demonstrates a characteristic trait to the masses and makes it look easily attainable, the masses will follow his lead. It is true, on our own, to attain the level of fear and awe of G-d may be an arduous task. However, now, that we, the Jewish  people, experienced Moshe’s leadership, we realize that to relate to G-d, fear G-d and to live an inspired life of observing Torah and mitzvos is attainable.

Having a role model from which to learn is a great lesson for all of us as parents, educators, lay leaders, etc. We all need to have special individuals in our lives that enable us to strive for more than we could have imagined in our own spiritual growth. We must then, in turn, try to become role models for the next generation.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Vaeschanan

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

  נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי יֹאמַר אֱלֹהֵיכֶם

This week’s haftarah, the first of seven which comfort us after Tisha B’Av, opens with the sentence, “Be comforted, be comforted, oh my nation. Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim and call to her (encourage her) since she was punished doubly for her sins.” The Midrash (Eicha ch. 1) notes that Yerusahalayim is consoled doubly to compensate for her being punished doubly.

What is the meaning of a double consolation?  Rav Chayim Shmuelevitz ZT’L (Rosh Yeshiva in Mir, Poland and Yerushalayim, 1902-1979) explains that once the redemption comes, we will be able to understand that the redemption was actually staged in the very worst of times. The seeds of redemption are sown when we are at our lowest ebb. This is the meaning of the well-known Gemara that teaches that Mashiach was born at the time of the destruction.

Reb Chaim also quotes the Gemara at the end of Makkos which related an incident in which Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues passed the ruins of the Bais HaMikdash and saw a fox exiting the place where the holy of holies had stood. Rabbi Akiva’s friends began to weep in response to the terrible desolation and desecration they were witnessing. However, Rabbi Akiva was smiling. When he was asked for an explanation, he said that the same prophet who said that Zion would be ploughed over because of our sins, also said that old hoary men and women each one holding his/her staff will yet again sit in the streets of Yershalayim. Now that we witnessed the fulfillment of the first part of this prophecy, we can surely anticipate the second part. How did this answer assuage the pain of the destruction?

Rav Chaim explains that the reconstructed Bais HaMikdash and the restoration of our people to our land is going to be on a much higher level of existence than we had in the past. The staffs held by the old people described in the prophecy symbolize abilities that far surpass what old people can do today. The destruction paved the way for this new existence and that is part of the consolation for our people. While the pain for our people is very real and justified, it is still mitigated with the knowledge that it isn’t for naught, it is purposeful and it lays the foundation for a brighter future.

The Jewish people have always overcome today’s adversity with the belief that tomorrow will be better. That isn’t enough. We must not only have faith in Hashem that he is just and kind. We must also have trust in his judgement. We must believe that he is always creating a brighter future with today’s events. We will be able to fully understand this at the time of redemption when the world will reach a perfect state and we will have the double consolation of being redeemed and knowing that our troubles were actually for our own good.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Devarim

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

From Exile to Redemption

This coming week on Tisha B’Av (the fast day remembering the destruction of the Temples) we read from the Kinnos. The Kinnos are a compilation of writings that reflect on the many tragic times in our history during our long exile. There is one kinnah that compares and contrasts the stark difference between when we left Mitzrayim (Egypt) and when we left Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). When leaving Mitzrayim, we were surrounded by a clear hand of G-d. However, when leaving Yerushalayim, we felt all alone. Throughout this kinnah many differences are pointed out between the two events, and at the end of each corresponding contrast the same line is repeated, “This is what happened when we left Mitzrayim; this is what happened when we left Yerushalayim.” A natural question arises: Why the constant comparison between these two experiences? It is clear that we understand the key difference – one was freedom and redemption while the other was exile.

The commentators tell us that the root of the word Mitzrayim is maytzar which means narrow, confined or restricted. On the other hand, the word Yerushalayim is composed of two parts yeru shalem which means to see the completeness in everything. These words deliver a simple message we tend to overlook in our daily lives. Often we are caught up in our narrow and restricted worlds. We get lost in our personal lives and daily challenges and lose sight of the complete picture, forgetting about the people around us, the rest of Klal Yisroel, our brothers and sisters wherever they are in the world. We must realize that we are one family. To transition from exile to redemption we need to leave Mitzrayim, the narrow place, and change our mindset to Yerushalayim, the completeness of all of us as a people.

During these challenging times in the world with anti-Semitism on the rise, we have rallied together in so many ways as a nation and a people. This message is spreading. We need to keep it going constantly. Whenever we are faced with a situation when a fellow Jew is in pain, we have to look beyond ourselves and reach out to help in whatever way we can. With that mindset and change of attitude, we will merit the rebuilding of the Temple. May it be speedily in our days.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Matos – Masei

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

These Are the Stations of the Jewish People

This week’s second parsha, Massei, begins with a listing of the 42 places that the Jewish people camped in during their journey from Egypt to Eretz Yisroel. It begins with Raamses in Egypt and ends with the encampment on the plains of Moav overlooking Jericho. What is the purpose of this listing? Rashi gives the explanation that it is a retrospective reflection on all of the travails that our people endured during their stay in the desert, and that in spite of those difficulties, Hashem stayed with us and pulled us through.

As a people, we have endured much travail and barely survived many of them. Our survival is a testimony to G-d’s covenant with His chosen people and the tenacity of the Jewish spirit. The challenges to our existence and our eventual triumph over these challenges are not the entire purpose of these difficulties. When Hashem places His people in any setting, it has many positive outcomes for us as a people. Every station that we have been placed in has provided us with opportunities to learn about ourselves and to integrate new abilities into our national character. An example of this is the Spanish period where we developed the field of Jewish philosophy, poetry and Hebrew grammar. Sure, there were grave threats to our spiritual and physical safety, and it didn’t end well for us, but we did gain these important competencies because of our 500 year stay there. This is true for individuals as well. Every community we live in, every relationship we have polishes us and adds to our competencies.

Parshas Massei is read during the three weeks of mourning for the Churban, the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. We are sad for the loss of our national pride, the dispersion of our people, our alienation from Hashem and the manifestations of his closeness to us. At the same time, we should reflect on how far we have come, the areas we have developed, and the strengths we have gathered during our long exile. This will give us comfort and a feeling of purpose for what  we have endured as a people.